Posted By Ted Baumhauer
If you are looking to distinguish yourself in your career one skill that is guaranteed to do that is making great presentations. With programs like Prezi and PowerPoint it has never been easier to make good looking presentations. These are just tools though and just because they might be in your tool box it doesn’t mean you know how to use them well. It can also be easy to become too dependent on them and not how we deliver the message. Here are a few quick tips to make your next presentation more engaging and interesting: -Grab your audience’s attention with sight (color) and sound. I’ve been known to crack a whip, throw a boomerang, or even pop a flash of flame if it fits into the talk. -Working with props: Point it up, make your point with a connection to the prop and make them wait just a little before doing your trick. -Get them to go with you by asking them to invest something more than just sitting there breathing. Ask them to do something. The Learning Pyramid tells us that lecture leads to less than 10% retention, demonstration about 30%, discussion 50%, practice over 70%, and teaching others 90%. Make them invest something of themselves and they will remember your talk and you!
Posted By Ted Baumhauer
Went out of this past weekend. We had to park in a very crowded parking lot. Just as we started looking for a parking space a car way up front was pulling out. As we got there we noticed a couple of things about this parking space. First, the space left open was pretty narrow and second this was because the big pick-up truck just to the left had pulled in, for what ever reason, a bit to the right and was over the line. Undaunted we got our car into the narrow space and only slightly over to the right and not over the line. I will admit that our car was a bit close to the car on our right but we did our best with the space that was there. You probably already know where this story is going. When we came out the big whooping truck to the left was gone and so was the car to our right. Some one in their wisdom wrote a message on our car about our bad parking job. Of course they didn't know the story or that we came later and did the best we could with what was open. Despite that they felt a need to fix the blame. Why? Why, does it seem, that we have become fixated on fixing the blame? It must be somebodies fault and it seemed obvious to them that it was my car. What difference does this make? You can probably tell I am not happy about this and you would be right. My guess is that they were mad too, why else would they write what they did on my car. In polite company I couldn't repeat it. This does nothing to fix the problem and only serves to heighten the emotion. You've seen this in other places too, like where you work. The background, the good intentions, the effort to do the best with what was present are not even considered. It is so much easier to look at the situation in the present and make a judgement based on who is there at the time. Fixing blame rather then fixing problems is one of the biggest issues I see in my training and consulting. It happens in parking lots and it happens where we work. It rarely does anything other than heighten emotions and never helps fix the problem. Break the cycle! Forget fixing the blame because even if you can figure out who did it still doesn't fix the problem. There are millions who fix the blame, and I might add a lot of them have been elected to Congress, be someone who gets things done. Fix problems, not blame.
Posted By Ted Baumhauer
What? That doesn’t make sense? Well maybe it does. If you have the mindset that you always have to be busy doing something and something productive, then maybe that is getting in your way of discovering excellence.
Everyone’s life is busy. Everyday has a “To Do” list. Whether that list is on paper or in your head I will bet it is full. Between advancing your career and maintaining your personal life there are only so many hours in the day. Oh! And we do have to fit in sleep somewhere. With all the demands for our time, when do we develop our skills and interests, reflect, plan? If we don’t make the time and hold to that every day, week, month or year, time marches on. 
Being one of those imperfect humans I will admit to struggling mightily with this. Those feelings of guilt creep in when I carve out time to practice my juggling or balancing skills. Guilt pops into my head when I sit down during the day to read. My work ethic tells me I could be making calls or doing some other project. 
It takes a conscious effort to control your schedule and time marches on! Your work ethic may be filling your day with work. Is it work that is, preparing you and stretching you to succeed in the future, or only meeting today’s needs?
Is your work ethic getting in your way?Working
Posted By Ted Baumhauer

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being." Johann von Goethe 

Here's hoping Mr. Goethe knew what he was talking about! I'll be counting on this as I've taken on the role of mediator for an organization that has two high power individuals that are not working well together. Due to the nature of the organization and the work they do there is no choice for them but to work together, and yet this has become a competition between them. 
Why is this? Neither one wants, or at least they both told me they don't want, a contemptuous work environment. But yet it is there and it is affecting the whole team. From what I've been able to learn so far, the team and these two have never taken the time to sit done and focus on just what type of work environment they do want. It seems like such a simple solution it just can't be that easy, right? We will find out. The game plan is to find out what their goals are for themselves, for the group, and how the group might work together. With that information hopefully I'll find some common ground to build off.
However complex the problems between the two are, they is no chance to improve or correct the situation without doing this work first. So why is it that this group, and in reality most groups, never do this foundational work of discussing and establishing their ground rules for being the best team they can be? My guess is that they all just assume we all have the same agenda. It is in that assumption that we open our groups up to just about any kind of behavior, good and bad, that the members of the group have experienced before. It is a pretty big assumption and one we can, as leaders, clarify to guide our teams to being the best they can be.
Posted By Ted Baumhauer

A lot has happened since June and my last blog posting. My weekly foray into improv came to an end late in July. Reflecting on the experience as a Village Idiot reminded me of the two types of hard. We all do what is hard and difficult sometimes and I think those difficult experiences come in two varieties.  

To figure it out the question is “how is it hard?”

 The Hard Way #1: The new skill just isn’t your thing. These are the times you find yourself playing to your weak suit in your personality or interests. Sometimes we even try to turn a weakness into a strength.  Isn’t that a job interview tactic, to explain how you did it?  Actually spending your time on this is a waste of time, on top of being really frustrating (read Now Discover Your Strengths). The point is that your time is better spent developing your weaknesses only to the point that they don’t detract from your strengths.

The Hard Way #2: You are engaging your natural interests and find the new task somehow interesting on top of being difficult. It is much easier for you to get up for this type of challenge because you actually like it. For example, a couple of years ago I was teaching a workshop in the Southern Tier of NY and one of the participants said he didn’t like to work hard. He looked likean outdoorsman so I asked him if he hunted. He loved hunting turkey. If you know anything about turkey hunting you know he spent hours Turkey getting his equipment ready. He got up before the crack of dawn to get dressed, getting his camouflage on just right, driving and hiking to his predetermined hiding spot. He in position ready to go before the sun came up. Then he patiently called the turkeys in to get a chance for one good shot. In other words he worked his butt off at something he really liked but he didn’t think of it as work. And it wasn’t to him. 
That’s the point. When we find those skills and talents the real challenge is to push ourselves in that direction. We can take on these type of challenges long after everyone else gives up in frustration because we enjoy it!  This is where we find our true potential, where we come the closest to being our best selves.
What I’ve noticed though, over the years, is that we sometimes diminish what comes easy for us as if to say “If I can do it anyone can. ” Well, that’s not true!" Each of us has unique gifts not everyone uses them.

Harry Chapin described two kinds of tired. One is when you’ve worked all day for someone else, the other is when you’ve worked all day for yourself. A good day of the former isn’t as good as a bad day of the later.  That's important when you lay your head down on the pillow at night to sleep.

What are your unique skills and talents? If you truly don’t know, spend some time to find out what they are and do it soon! Use and develop those skills as much as possible. Like Harry said, you will find doing this type of hard work satisfies your soul.



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Ted Baumhauer


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